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How to avoid a startup failure

April 20, 2015, 4:30 PM UTC

The Leadership Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question “What advice would you give someone looking to start their own business?” is by Jim Yu, CEO and co-founder of BrightEdge.

Don’t avoid risks, but do avoid being reactive. Starting a business is challenging for so many reasons, but perhaps the most difficult reason is giving up something comfortable for something uncertain. When I started BrightEdge 8 years ago, I remember my biggest concern was losing my steady paycheck and flexible work hours once I left my job at Salesforce—at a time when my wife and I were expecting our first child. It was a scary yet exhilarating decision to launch a company with only $5,000 in bootstrapped funds and a few servers from my kitchen table. But looking back, I’m so glad I didn’t allow the fear of taking risks hold me back. If you have a vision for something you’re truly passionate about, the reward will be so much greater than any risk. My team and I saw a void in an industry we loved and knew we could fill it with a long-term solution.

That brings me to my next point: don’t be reactive. Many new companies are too concerned with reacting to a market change or need. Filling a temporary need can be successful in the short-term, but it’s not sustainable. Instead, spend the time and resources needed to build a strong infrastructure. At BrightEdge, we focused on building ironclad technology, carefully hiring the right people (not rushing), and developing a strategic customer and partner base. Every day should be moving you one step closer to your long-term goal–set consistent but aggressive benchmarks for yourself.

Additionally, when hiring, don’t be reactive either. It can be easy in the beginning—particularly if you’re experiencing a lot of growth—to want to fill more seats so you can get more hands on the project. But don’t fall prey to quick-and-dirty hiring practices. Instead of filling numbers, be thoughtful and meticulous. Look for the right experience and, more importantly, the right personality. You can teach a smart person to do (pretty much) anything well—but you can’t teach them the right attitude. To this day, we put each new hire through a lengthy week-long on boarding and training process complete with assessment testing. This saves time and improves their performance in the long-run. And lastly, be willing to work hard. My co-founder Lemuel Park and I work every Saturday–this gives us a chance to think about the big picture and beyond our day-to-day responsibilities. Be prepared to put in the extra effort whenever necessary.

Read all answers to the Leadership Insider question: What advice would you give someone looking to start their own business?

3 things to consider before starting your own business by Sunil Rajaraman, co-founder of

4 ways to persuade people to join your startup by Nir Polak, CEO and co-founder of Exabeam.

GoDaddy CEO’s 5 tips for aspiring entrepreneurs by Blake Irving, CEO of GoDaddy.